READY: Federal Cabinet Supports R18+ Rating For Games

READY: Federal Cabinet Supports R18+ Rating For Games

READY: Federal Cabinet Supports R18+ Rating For GamesMinister for Home Affairs Brendan O’ Connor announced this morning that the Julia Gillard’s Federal Government are now in support of the introduction of an R18+ rating for video games.

“We want to provide better guidance for parents, claimed O’ Connor, “and remove unsuitable material from children and teenagers. The introduction of an R18+ classification will help achieve that.”

The final decision, however, will have to wait until this Friday, when the Attorneys-General meet, but signs now seem to be massively in favour of Australia finally receiving an adult rating for games.

“We believe that this is the right decision for Australian families and the right decision for parents who want to be able to make informed choices about the games their children play.”

“Children and teenagers shouldn’t be exposed to the gratuitous sex, violence and adult themes that are contained in some computer games,” Mr O’Connor said.

“There are dozens of games that are currently classified as MA15+ in Australia, but in other countries these gaming titles are restricted to adults only.

“If the new category is introduced, it could result in computer games that are currently classified MA15+ being reclassified R18+, providing a new level of protection for children.”

Supporting this decision is a Galaxy survey showing that 80% of the 2,226 surveyed were in support of an R18+ for video games. The survey also showed that 91% of adults would know that an R18+ rated game was unsuitable for children.

Ironically the poll also showed that 81% of South Australians were in support of the R18+ rating – a number higher than the national average. Which just goes to show that Michael Atkinson was going directly against the opinion of the majority of his constituents for the entire time he was in office – but that’s just a parting shot!

But the introduction of an R18+ rating still hangs in the balance – it’s completely dependent upon the agreement of the Attorneys-General this Friday. However, the statements from Brendan O’ Connor and Gillard’s government provide the strongest indication yet that we could be on the verge of receiving what Australia has been clamouring after for years: an adult rating for video games.

Stay tuned for the most up-to-date coverage in the coming week.

Comments

  • Firstly, this is commitment! It’s Sunday! XD

    Secondly, Michael Atkinson’s arguments never made sense. I don’t believe he was ever told exactly what the effects of introducing an R18+ rating would be. Must’ve been tutored by Jack Thompson…

    Thirdly, this time it’ll go through. I’m certain of it!

    Good job to all involved in this movement, we changed* Australian law! (*read: will change/on the verge of changing)

  • There is a light at the end of the tunnel. I cant believe what a fantastic job the gaming industry has done in raising this issue with everyone who would listen. Makes me proud to be a gamer.

  • This is fantastic news.

    I spent a large portion of this year working on a Major Research Assignment for Graphic Design in working out ways of reaching wider audiences.

    Conclusion was a video campaign, have a look if you want, it’s only short.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvbFTR-eCH8

    I am not getting my hopes up though, because the attorney-generals haven’t got a very good track record for agreeing on a subject. lol

    “What’s particularly significant about this move by the Federal government, is that even without the SCAG, this paves the way for a members bill to amend the 1995 Classification Act to remove the unanimity requirement to append changes.

    This is huge!”

    -Gamers4Croydon

  • My only concern with all this is that while there’s been lots of support for it on the grounds of making violent games harder for kids to get (i.e. a lot of currently MA15+ games would end up as R18+), there’s been very little said about the right of adults to play what they want.

    Which means we could end up with the introduction of an R rating, but STILL have to put up with stuff like the Left 4 Dead 2 fiasco.

    • I find the shift in how people are arguing for an R18+ rating to be particularly interesting. It seems to me that most people want the rating so that games like Left 4 Dead 2 won’t be banned. And yet, people will no longer admit that in their arguments.

      Wanting the freedom to choose the games that you play is a valid argument. Unfortunately, it gathers no public support. People who don’t play games start to wonder why you would want to play a game that is particularly violent. And you end up looking like an ‘undesirable’.

      I think everyone is hoping that once an R18+ rating is established, we will naturally see games like L4D2 making it through classification, as their content isn’t too far above the content of other games that make it through classification currently. We may be hoping for too much, but we can only wait it out and see.

      Establishing an R18+ rating is society’s first step towards accepting that games can contain adult content, that this content may be purchased and enjoyed by adults, and that people under the age of 18 should be restricted from experiencing this content. From there, arguing that adults should be able to play what they want is easier. Although there will always be rules in place to ensure that any media is within the bounds of “decency”, as defined by the sentiments of public opinion.

      • That’s cos the argument to allow these really violent games into the country without censoring or major alterations is nowhere near as effective at persuading non-gamers (or the larger constituent, concerned parents) that this change is needed. Let’s face it; in the end, people will always be more concerned with protecting young minds.

        I’m not saying that the “protect the children” argument is wrong, just that it will always be the more effective argument.

      • One of the “protect the children” arguments is that our current laws result in games with adult themes being trimmed down until the violence only just meets the MA15+ rating and then released. Such games still contain the other aspects that would give it an adult rating over seas, so it isn’t clear that they are suitable for children.

        So the argument goes that an R18+ rating would result in those games being released uncut and out of reach of children. I don’t see a conflict here.

    • It makes no sense at all.

      If there is a new classification then publishers should be allowed to resubmit for the R18+ rating.

      Not just move some games from MA15+ to R18+.

      From the statements, it seems logical to the people in charge to reclassify L4D2 low violence edition to R18+.

      • @everyone complaining about banned games not receiving classification. There is nothing stopping publishers from resubmitting games to be re-evaluated under the new classification system, all Brendan O’Connor has said is that they won’t be automatically re-evaluated in the way that some existing MA15+ games will be.

        • Would like to see a reference for that. My memory was they were non-committal on the fact, but indicated it’s something they would look at.

          In the end a publisher is only going to resubmit if they think the cost of doing so, cost of reprints/repressing and profit from subsequent sales if successful is monetarily sufficient and won’t have negative PR attached. Given that such games will be well over a year old (possibly two) it’s unlikely.

          The government could easily write into the legislation a restriction on re-assessing previously RC content. Would it be fair? No. Would that stop them? No. In fact it’s quite likely as a compromise for the likes of the ACL.

          • I guess our next petition would have to be getting Valve to resubmit L4D2. I could see them doing it just because they’re cool. It was afterall, the game that rallied more supporters of R18+ than any other.

  • Thanks for working on a Sunday 🙂

    Very positive news, O’Connor’s newfound support/discovery of the issue vindicates all the work being done by thousands of R18+ supporters, including Kotaku.

  • “And Mr O’Connor also gave a guarantee he would not allow games that had been banned in Australia to be approved for release under the new R18+ classification, if it is approved.”

    Well that is pretty retarded. On my main Steam account I have the low violence L4D2 version. We should be able to get the uncut version with the introduction of R18+ rating.

    • But L4D2 didn’t get banned (just censored), as an MA15+ game it might get rerated as R18+. If there’s the chance of that happening, Valve may uncensor the game with a patch.

    • Agreed, that’s a bit unfair. There was a particular game that should be reclassified, for a minor thing. That’s Gothic 3 – Risen. You could smoke ‘weed’ and it would have benefits; This was a 0.01% part of the game, and got it banned. And no reclassification = epic fail. It could go cheap on Steam, and would make some sales I bet.

      • An R18+ classification wouldn’t make a difference here. The classification guidelines (which seem to have been written to cover an R18+ rating) state that including incentives for drug use is an automatic RC.

  • In regards to the whole L4D2 thing, I’m sure it’ll be a different case, since we DID get the game. So technically we have it and they can’t take it away from us.
    Valve’ll probably just say “yo” and then arrange something.

  • Whilst we can’t celebrate yet, I have to congratulate all the people that worked so hard to get us here, including the team at Kotaku

    Refocusing from the discussion from “we want R18+ games” to “we want to protect children from the R18 games already here classified as MA15” was a masterstroke.

    Well played sirs, well played.

    • Also: “The survey also showed that 91% of adults would know that an R18+ rated game was unsuitable for children”

      What the HELL are the other 9% thinking it means? R18+ means that you’ll have a minimum of 18 Really fun moments?

  • This is a step in the right direction, since in the Telegraph article its says that if the rating goes though then there will be a long consultation process with the games industry, game retailers, childrens lobby groups and the Australian Christian Lobby.

    Thats right, the Christian lobby will be a part of the consultation process. So while this is a massive step forward….we’re not out of the woods yet.

    • one thing to remeber is that the telegraph is a more righwing paper as well as a sensational paper ( one that plays to fear mongering than actual facts)

      Case in point, in the Sunday Tele’s coverage they brought up the LFD2 issue and said that the board had recived complaints about the game not being any different than the RC version.

      Its obvious that, that complain came from a parent who wasnt in the know and their child had already done the modifications needed to enable everything that was cut

      • ok we need an edit button here.

        Just though of something, I really do hope that if/when we get an R18+ and games get reclassified, that the government puts out a mandatory add campagin to inform the public that certain games have been reclassified are not suitible for those under age of 18.

        It would be a bit of a cockblock, but i can just imagine the confusion and bad PR that will go out when one parent has GTA4 rated r18 and one has GTA4 at the MA15+ level

  • I don’t mean to ruin everyone’s optimism, but it is being reported that the Liberal MPs are putting a lot of pressure on the WA Attorney General to block the change. The need for unanimity, in my opinion, will ensure that the vocal minority will continue to get their way for some time to come.

    In fact it seems that the new approach, that the R18 rating will protect children from games currently underrated at MA15, could result in pressure to simply refuse those games classification in the absence of an appropriate rating.

    I hope I’m wrong.

    • I agree. Much as I’d like to be optimistic about this, I’ve been following the R18+ rating debacle and other censorship issues for too long to be anything but cynical. Vocal elements in the WA government and opposition are opposed to it. The SA government itself is opposed. The newly elected Victorian Liberal government may use it to score points against Federal Labor (something WA may do as well).

      And then there’s the possibility that the R18+ will be introduced, but that it will be neutered. It’s not entirely unlikely that, due to the focus being given to games currently in the MA15+ rating that are rated R18+ around the world, the new R18+ rating will essentially be just be the top half of the existing MA15+ rating.

  • Great news… roll on Friday.

    Also, did anyone see that McSween woman on Sunrise this morning.
    For a “Social Commentator” she’s remarkably poorly informed.
    When asked for an opinion on the matter her response was: people who play games don’t need an R18 rating, they need to go outside and kick a ball around… they’re the reason kids are so violent.

    Sensationalist right there.

  • My only concern is that with Labor announcing their support, the Libs will immediately disagree simply because it is now a ‘Labor cause’ in some respects. Thanks to the current system we have in place, this announcement essentially means bunk, and in some ways, hurts our chances of getting an R rating as Liberal are likely to block anything supported by Labor.

  • I just caught the end of some media coverage for the R18 discussion on the channel ten news. I missed most of it though =[

  • According to Adelaidenow website, it says that South Australia is still opposed to the rating, i know it was true when Michael Atkinson was AG but i thought the new AG John Rau was open to the issue and was going to base his decision on reviewing all arguments, does anyone know of a article where is says the new SA AG is opposed to the rating.

    I think we are getting closer to the Classafication but i am still a little pessimistic about all this, There is too much that can go against the decision so my advice is to not get your hopes up and be dissapointed that the decision is not the right one.

  • “I am concerned that there are dozens and dozens of games in this country that are currently accessible to 15-year-olds that are not accessible to minors in the United States, United Kingdom and Europe,”

    oh, ok, as long as we are about stepping in line with our international counter parts. lets not forget that many games NOT allowed in this country ARE allowed in the United States, UK, and Europe.

    can’t have it both ways, fix BOTH the imbalances!

    still, I can understanding focusing on the MA -> R transitions first. if it gets us an R rating, yay! the classification board have already said that many games they have banned would have been let through on an R18 rating, so while we might not get the currently banned games, all new ones should get through.

  • “..Mr O’Connor also gave a guarantee he would not allow games that had been banned in Australia to be approved for release under the new R18+ classification”

    Really? So if they’re now resubmitted and pass as R rated under the new guidelines, how are you going to stop them, O’Connor? The whole point isn’t to “ban” games, it’s to have them classified properly in the first place.

    And when constitutes a banned game? RC?

  • I hope they do it right, rather than just shunting everything to R18

    I read games like borderlands, Just cause 2 and black ops would be R18 had we had R18 at the time. Having only played part of borderlands and the demo of JC2, from my limited experience of these i wouldnt say they’re anything near R18 worthy. (cant speak for the rest of the game)

    What i’m saying is, Games need to be on par with movies. Would the level of violence/whatever in these games be given R18 if they were comparable movies? I highly doubt it. If Black Ops was a movie, it would probably comfotably fit in the MA rating, yet, we have people calling for it to be banned/R18.

    Now i dont know, i only have very limited experience with these games (note to self, buy more games), but it seems the point has been missed by the politicians.

  • Why is this all about the children? Should’nt this also be about adults being able to play unedited games, without the government restricting them. I’m an adult let me play what I want… And I’ll govern what my kids play.

  • Got a good feeling about this, just saw some coverage on Ten news about exactly this. The people against was lol morons..

    • No, there’s going to be pressure from the party room on their A-G to block it. Important difference: there’s still ‘weight of evidence’ versus ‘a few colleagues opinions’ in play, so WA could still be convinced to get on the bus.

      • In an ideal world, the State Government could introduce the rating and allow the states and territories to opt in or opt out of it.

        It wouldn’t be long before every state was on board after seeing that an R rating won’t lead to digital Sodom and Gomorrah.

      • That’s true, but given our previous experience with South Australia, I’m sure you’d excuse us if this news makes us a little worried. There’s the outside chance that the government might realise that a single person with veto power is completely against the principles of a democratic nation, and change that particular requirement, but if WA decides to dig in their heels, then we could be right back to where we were… after all, no decision is always going to be easier than any decision.

        But still, we’re in the best position we’ve been in for a long time now.

  • From what I have read the new R18 for games will simply be the current MA just renamed, and a new even more restrictive MA Classification will be created, NO GAMES UNBANNED. So, exactly the same level of Censorship, just with a different name.

    It is like the parents of an 18 year old changing his “7PM Bedtime” to “19 Hundred Hours Lights Out”, if anything it is even more of an insult because they not only still think you are a child, but such a simple child that a name change will easily placate you.

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